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The Middle Report

The Middle examines the reasons why BAME middle managers are not progressing to senior executive roles within large businesses operating in the UK, and what can be done about it

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Strategies for Advancing BAME Talent

Commissioned by the Black British Business Awards (BBBAwards) and in partnership with EMpower, this is the only multi-method study in the UK that conducts a deep dive qualitative enquiry into the experiences of multiple critical stakeholders in the context of this subject, including HR Directors, Diversity and Inclusion Executives, Executive Sponsors, BAME Employee Network Chairs and BAME Senior Executives. 

Influential executives from 30 significant corporates and regulators reviewed how their cultures and practices influenced progression of BAME talent.

Six main observations arising were that:

All stakeholders had a clear intention to improve the current position within their workplace but feel hamstrung by the discomfort of discussing race
This discomfort of discussing race in the workplace causes avoidance to a point of stifling, if not preventing, progress
Organisations have objectives to achieve better outcomes for BAME retention, but most do not have a strategy or proper resource allocation
There are few ‘captains of industry and white allies’ publicly speaking about this subject and few BAME voices in senior teams, and so, BAME issues do not feature as key agenda items
Generally, the most visible advocates of BAME talent in companies are the employee resource groups that consist largely of volunteers. Though hardworking they tend not have the executive authority or access to budget to influence strategy
What gets measured, gets done. Why are businesses not pushing for the measurement of BAME progression, if we are serious about it?

The BBBAwards are calling on company Chairs, CEOs and HR Directors to do the following:

Investigate the issues raised by the various internal stakeholders.

Address practices that must be stopped to level the playing field.

Adopt strategic recommendations for greater accountability, cultural and organisational change to accelerate minority ethnic talent.

Participating Companies


Allianz Insurance plc

BAE Systems

Baker McKenzie

Bank of England



Bloomberg L.P.

BNP Paribas

BNY Mellon

British Airways

Credit Suisse


Financial Conduct Authority



J.P. Morgan



Lloyd’s of London

Lloyd’s Bank


Mitie plc

Moody’s Investors Service, Inc

National Grid

Sky UK

Nationwide Building Society

Procter & Gamble

Prudential plc


Reed Smith


Thomson Reuters

TSB Bank


“Our research focused on the advancement of minority ethnic middle-managers. It identified that race and ethnicity are such sensitive topics and evoke anxiety when even employees with the most positive intentions attempt to discuss these issues. We learned that, even when people are comfortable discussing what needs to be done, there are few effective strategies in place for long-term change.” 

Dr Doyin Atewologun
Chartered Business Psychologist & Director, Delta Alpha Psi 
Research Lead for the BBBAwards
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